5 cravings decoded
Understanding the reasons behind our carb/sugar/steak hankerings can mean the difference between #dietwin and #dietfail, so here are 5 cravings decoded – because knowledge is power!
It’s not uncommon to crave chocolate around the time of your period, and if you find this to be the case, fluctuating oestrogen and progesterone levels could be the culprit – but there’s more. It’s thought that key nutrients are lost through menstruation, one of which is magnesium. Dark chocolate is a source of magnesium, so craving chocolate during your period could be a sign of low magnesium levels. Consult your GP or a qualified nutritionist for advice on magnesium deficiency.
Craving something meaty such as steak – combined with feelings of weakness and fatigue – could be a sign of iron deficiency. Iron is an important mineral needed for red blood-cell formation: it’s a vital component for manufacturing haemoglobin (which carry oxygen around your body), and low iron levels can result in iron-deficiency anaemia. You can request an iron level test from your GP.
Only five per cent of our diet should come from added sugar, but most of us consume double this amount. One of the reasons we reach for sweets is erratic blood-sugar levels. When these drop too low (often because of missing meals or eating foods that don’t satisfy our hunger properly), your brain senses a threat to survival, and demands that you reach for a sugar fix to provide an immediate energy lift. Instead of sweets, fresh fruit is a great option because it contains fibre, which helps to regulate blood-sugar levels. Stew an apple or munch on sliced pear topped with nut butter.
If an extra-large portion of chips doused in vinegar and salt is calling your name, it might be linked to dehydration. Salt helps the body hold on to water, so we crave it when we’re running low on fluids. Stay hydrated by sipping on water throughout the day. If plain H20 bores you, try adding a squeeze of lemon or a few sprigs of mint to liven it up. And if you really are hankering after a salty treat, seaweed crisps are a good low-calorie but nutrient-packed option.
High-carb foods such as bread boost levels of feel-good serotonin, so if there’s nothing that comforts you more than a chunk of white bread with lashings of butter when you’re feeling down in the dumps, it may be your body’s way of trying to help lift your mood. Ditch refined carbs for healthy alternatives such as a handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds: these contain tryptophan, a precursor to the manufacturing of serotonin.